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Garden Guru

Even Bees need to go

Jim Boxberger
Posted 2/25/22

As much as we liked the warm temperatures earlier this week, today is more like February weather. Even in March we can get a fair amount of snow. It usually waits till the end of March when we like …

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Garden Guru

Even Bees need to go


As much as we liked the warm temperatures earlier this week, today is more like February weather. Even in March we can get a fair amount of snow. It usually waits till the end of March when we like to get our garden center ready for spring, then we get dumped on.

But the warm weather that we had this week does serve a purpose in nature. When we get warm spurts like we had this week, honeybees can take a well needed potty break outside of the hive. Bees stay somewhat active in the hive all winter long, consuming honey that they have stored and keeping the queen warm.

Well all that honey consumed needs to go somewhere and if the bees do not get a warm spell when they can fly outside the hive, they otherwise will go in the hive which can lead to problems. So as much as the weather may screw up your crocus bulbs which might be popping up right now, it does have a benefit as well.

Seven years ago, I wrote about a revolutionary product that has the potential to change apiculture forever. Apiculture being the raising and caring for honey bees for the purposes of producing honey. The product in question is the Flow Hive, invented by a father/son team in Australia. They created a way to extract honey from the beehive without opening it up, that is quite remarkable.

They have created new frames for inside the hive that can be shifted with the turn of a key so that the honey in each of the cells will flow down to a collection area at the bottom. Once there it is just a matter of turning a tap and watching the honey flow out a tube and into your jar.

Their trademarked and patented product, the Flow Hive Frame, can also fit into existing beehives so that you don’t have to disturb your queen bee in her brood box while retrofitting your super with the new frames. Honey collection has long been the only thing stopping many people from keeping bees as it is a long and tedious process.

Now “with the turn of a tap” you too can produce fresh all natural honey yourself. I bought a Flowhive set-up way back in the beginning to see if it worked, as I was interested in selling it along side all the traditional beekeeping supplies we carry. But the product has been so popular that they never sell the product through distribution channels, you have to order it direct from Australia.

We did have good luck with our Flowhive, when we had bees, but we lost our colonies a couple of years ago and have not been able to catch another swarm since then. Two years ago, I caught two swarms totally by accident very late in the season and they did not have the honey stores to make it through the winter even with supplemental feeding.

Last year, I had our swarm traps out early hoping to catch a late spring or early summer swarm and came up empty on all three of my traps. When I talked with other beekeepers last year they said the same thing, they didn’t see a lot of swarms in the area. Hopefully, this year will be better as my hives are ready for new colonies. We sell all the traditional beekeeping supplies, but bee colonies we don’t have.

Those can be ordered online and there are a few beekeepers in the area that may sell starter colonies. You can check with the Cornell Cooperative Extension as well, their number is (845) 292-6180. Getting bees locally if possible is better as they will be accustomed to the flora of the area and the climate, which is why I prefer to catch local bees instead of ordering online which usually come from the south.

Beekeeping has risen in popularity lately because of Covid and, if more people start keeping bees, we can help to safeguard our own foodsource as Colony Collapse Disorder has been affecting bee populations around the world. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is just what it sounds like, an otherwise healthy beehive suddenly loses its worker bees and without them the queen dies and as the queen goes so goes the hive.

Scientists still haven’t found the cause of CCD and many different theories abound from pesticides to mites. But by keeping and propagating bees for just backyard honey production, we can help to maintain a healthy worldwide population of the oldest sweetener producing workers in the world. And who doesn’t like honey? It even goes great on a snow cone…


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